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The Host of Hollywood

"ET" anchor Bob Goen's easygoing approach gets celebrities to open up.
Joel Drucker
From the Print Edition:
Sharon Stone, July/Aug 2004

(continued from page 1)


ne of his favorite memories is when he interviewed Milton Berle for the show. Arriving at the comedian's high-rise apartment in Los Angeles, Goen was told by Berle precisely where to station the cameras and how to start the interview.

"Uncle Miltie, you're 80 years old," Goen remembers saying. "How do you feel?"

"I feel like a 20-year-old," replied Berle. He paused. "But there's never one around when you need one."

"When it was over," Goen says. "He pulled out two nice Davidoffs and we just sat and talked. It was great. I mean, this guy's the man when it comes to TV and comedy."

Another manly cigar moment came after Goen interviewed James Coburn. The craggy actor offered Goen a Cohiba. Soon enough, Goen felt a bond with the gravelly voiced star in a way far deeper than a mere set of questions and answers.

"It's like he was saying, 'Here you go, kid, you're in the fraternity,'" says Goen. "Share a cigar with someone like Berle or Coburn, and you feel connected to that old-guard Hollywood, back to places like Musso & Frank Grill or that old Rat Pack hangout, Matteo's."

Yet Goen's personal cigar venue is far removed from the bright lights. He began smoking in 1986 as part of a regular golf game with his brother-in-law and a few friends. "Every Saturday morning we'd go out to this golf course, Recreation Park in Long Beach," he says. "I just liked the whole process of holding and drawing. I've never been able to be stressed out when I'm smoking a cigar."

Too busy these days to refine his 17-handicap golf game, Goen enjoys smoking one or two cigars a week in the backyard of his San Fernando Valley home. His preferred brand is Playboy by Don Diego. "I sit at dusk, in my home gazebo," he says, "and let myself recover from all the tumult that comes from working and living in Los Angeles."

Nowhere does Goen find the cigar a more appropriate part of the Hollywood he's admittedly "drenched in" than in the realm of comedy. "You watch Groucho, Bill Cosby or George Burns," he says. "These guys made the cigar as much a part of their act as anything else. The cigar is a punctuator. They'd make their joke, and then the cigar was their way of saying they were just going to sit back and savor it. The cigar's not an exclamation point, but a dot-dot-dot. I like that understatement."

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